Suburban Man Arrested for Kidnapping 11-Year-Old Florida Girl: Sheriff

A suburban Chicago man was arrested Sunday after authorities said he drove to Florida and abducted an 11-year-old girl he met online.

John Peter Byrns, of Hoffman Estates, was taken into custody at a hotel in west Macon, Georgia, on Sunday afternoon, according to a statement from the Bibb County Sheriff’s office.

Officials said the family of the 11-year-old victim from Orlando, Florida, reported her missing as an endangered runaway at around 9 a.m. Sunday, saying they believed she left home with a bookbag full of clothes late Saturday night.

The Orange County Sheriff’s office tracked the girl’s phone as she traveled north with 24-year-old Byrns, authorities said. At that point, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bibb County Sheriff’s office became involved in the investigation.

Authorities tracked the girl’s phone to a Holiday Inn Express in Macon, Georgia, where Byrns’ vehicle was found parked outside, officials said.

FBI agents and sheriff’s deputies found Byrns and the girl inside one of the hotel rooms, safely recovering the child and taking Byrns into custody, authorities said.

The girl was reunited with her family late Sunday, while Byrns remained in FBI custody in Georgia, officials said.

He was arrested on a warrant from the Orange County Sheriff’s office for kidnapping of a child under 13, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a news conference Monday.

Byrns met the girl through an online game, authorities said, with Demings calling it “a cautionary tale.”

“He struck up a dialogue, a communication with a child, by simply faking that he was another 13- or 14-year-old girl, and was having communications with this 11-year-old child,” Demings said Monday.

Authorities said Byrns drove from Illinois to Orlando and “picked up the child down the street from her residence and was planning on driving back to Illinois.”

It was not clear when charges would be filed in the case, and attorney information for Byrns was not immediately available.

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